Friday, 12 July 2013

The Heart of the Matter

If you've been following my blog for a while, you will know that I have had heart-related problems this year, which have left me with lots of time off ill (including being taken to A&E three or four times - one loese count) and ultimately led to me leaving my job.

In April this led to 24-hour Holter monitoring, which is basically where pads are attached to your chest, hooked to a small device you carry in your pocket and it does an ECG recording throughout your daily activities.

I was told it would be 6 to 8 weeks before the results would be analysed. And I waited, and each time I phoned the deadline was pushed back.

A couple of weeks back I asked my GP to contact the cardiology clinic to ask them to prioritise the analysis, due to the work circumstances and that I had been in A&E since the Holter monitor. This was done.

On Wednesday I phoned the cardiology clinic, which said that they had not been contacted, and the results would not be available till late August. They then phoned me back and said that they had phoned the GP surgery which had confirmed that they had not contacted the cardiology clinic. Curioser and curioser.

This morning I was not feeling well - my heart was going erratic again, and I was feeling dizzy (indeed at several points today I have felt that the room was wobbling a bit and that I was about to collapse). In the afternoon I marched to Sainsbury's via the traditional route and did some shopping - which I put into orange carrier bags - and then went to the GP's surgery as I needed to get a repeat prescription.

While there I asked, and was told that no, the cardiology clinic had not phoned. Curioser and curioser. But then it gets really interesting.

There is a letter from the cardiology clinic with the results (yep, the results which only 2 days ago I had been told would not be ready till late August). And they show nothing wrong.

Now, that may sound like good news. But is it?

Firstly, I left my job over my health, and my life has felt on hold since then. In addition, when I left it was made clear that my reference would concentrate on the fact that I had a lot of time off ill this year.

So, when I go for another job there are two outcomes:

  • I state that I left on health grounds and that these are still being investigated. In that case, an employer could reasonably assume that I will have lots of time off. On the other hand, it has been suggested to me that on any application form I put that I consider myself disabled due to my heart problems
  • I state that the heart issues have been investigated and nothing found. In that case, an employer could reasonably assume I am one of these people whose motto is "We're very busy, so I'll have a sickie". Now, I am not a "sickie" person and have never had "manflu". In the job before the last one I had a reputation of coming in when ill, and rarely taking days off. The issue here is that when your heart starts going funny it can get serious very quickly, and I am a commuter by train, so if I am feeling unwell with this, then there is the possibility that it will develop rapidly before we arrive at the next station. Headaches - I come in. Colds - I come in. I dislocated my shoulder on 29 February last year when I tripped over while running on a treadmill, but came in to work the following day (probably still with morphine in my system). There have been days when I have had to quietly nip off to the loo, throw up, and come back to my desk not telling anyone. Heart arrhythmia - different kettle of fish totally.

So, how should I interpret this result. Well, absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence. There are days when I don't show any symptons, and I guess this was just one of them. Paramedics wouldn't take me to A&E after an ECG if they thought there was nothing wrong. A&E departments wouldn't keep me in overnight for observation if they thought there was nothing wrong. GPs wouldn't suspect I have an arrhythmia if they thought there was nothing wrong.

I see my GP in a fortnight. This time I think I'll ask for the 72 hour ECG to give them more chance of catching it. Yes, I know it'll be inconvenient, and in summer I'll be quite smelly as I woulnd't be able to have a bath or shower. But it has to be done to enable me to move on with life - and importantly to be able to get a job.

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